BY RACHAEL SCHULTZ, DECEMBER 25, 2013
If your number of Facebook friends competes with your monthly mortgage payment, you may not be so happy after those embarrassing pictures from the holiday party go live: The more social circles you’re connected to on Facebook, the more anguish unwanted photos cause you, finds a new study from Northwestern University.
Why? If you drunkenly dance at your frat brother’s wedding, but your list of friends is limited to college buddies, they’ve already seen the live version of the shameful show. If you’re friends with your boss and your girlfriend’s whole family though, that awkward pic may suddenly matter more to you, explains study author Jeremy Birnholtz, Ph.D.
The good news: Birnholtz’s study also found that people who were more familiar with Facebook’s features, like how to manipulate privacy settings, weren’t as shaken by unseemly photos of themselves. Here are four Facebook tips to protect your privacy—and dignity.
1. Approve photos and posts you’re tagged in:
You can’t stop someone from tagging you in photos or posts without blocking them completely, but you can enable an alert for when someone tries to attach your name to an unwanted face.
- Click the settings wheel at the top right of any Facebook page and select Account Settings.
- In the left column, click ‘Timeline and Tagging.’
- Look for the setting ‘Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline?’ and click ‘Edit’ to the far right. Select ‘Enabled’ from the dropdown menu.
- On the ‘Timeline and Tagging’ page, find ‘Tag Review’ and click ‘Edit’ to the far right. Select ‘Enabled’ from the dropdown menu.
When someone tags you, a numbered alert will show in in your Activity Log before your cover photo, and you’ll have to manually approve the tag. When someone tags you in a post, the ‘Needs Review’ tab will appear in your timeline, and the post won’t show up in your Timeline unless you send it through.
2. Scan Facebook for threats:
“By default, just about all social media profiles are unsecure,” says online security expert Gary Bahadur, CEO of KRAA Security. “If you have a lot of revealing information, that data can be used to impersonate you. Hackers can use your information to do typical things like credit card applications, and even fool your friends into giving them money.”
Your best defense besides cranking your security settings? Apps like secure.me act like an antivirus software for Facebook, combing for posts and photos that pose a threat to your privacy, security, and even reputation.
3. Remove ads:
It’s creepy when Cheetos ads pop up on your profile right after you post about your craving for a bag. And while you can’t stop the banners from being disturbingly personal, you can trade the space for an empty white box. AdBlock is free to download and works through your browser, so it will even stop announcements from flashing at you on other sites like Youtube.
4. Get a text notification each time you log in:
To prevent potential hacks, enable SMS notifications every time someone tries to sign in through your Facebook.
- Go to Account Settings.
- Click on ‘Mobile Settings’ and register your cell phone.
- Go back to Account Settings.
- Click ‘Security Settings’
- Under Login Notifications, check the ‘Text Message’ box